In places like South Carolina and Florida, backyards and barbecue grills are almost as much a part of some golf courses as Bridgestones and bogeys. Houses in golf-course communities -- seemingly more common than not in areas like Myrtle Beach -- are nothing more than a slight hook or slice away from the fairways, placing them in a perennial line of fire. It's the agreed-upon-price to be paid on occasion for the scenery and lifestyle.
Here on Long Island, the side-by-side relationship between patio and par-5 is a foreign concept, existing only at a number of public golf courses that you can sum up with one hand. And when houses and yards that are not part of a golf course are routinely pelted with duck hooks, the residents don't take kindly to it -- and rightly so.
Two Suffolk County municipal courses -- West Sayville GC in West Sayville and Bergen Point GC in West Babylon -- have been in the news several times in the past year due to issues with the neighboring community. In this past Sunday's Newsday, Community Watchdog columnist Judy Cartwright followed up previous reports and outlined the showdown between West Sayville golfers, Suffolk County Parks Department representatives and residents along the north side of the course. And CBS2 News recently highlighted the concerns (and property damage) of residents who live beside Bergen Point's ninth hole (video link courtesy of Long Island Golf News).
The issues bring to mind other locations around local public courses where ball can easily meet house, or worse. Here's a few that come to mind:
[NOTE: This is not intended to glorify or encourage errant shots toward houses. It's a recollection of the rare examples where homes are in close proximity to courses in our area. Please exercise caution and courtesy when playing the holes and courses listed below.]
Stonebridge Golf Links: Long Island's closest imitation of the type of residential golf developments found elsewhere in the country, the Hauppauge course circles its houses so closely that you might be able to get in on dinner if you're polite enough. Trees and netting form a protective barrier for homes on many holes (though you still might lose a ball out-of-bounds into a yard), but on others, especially #1, #2 and #16, a bad righty hook or pull can have negative consequences for all involved. About a dozen yards and patios are just steps from the fairway on the "Hog's Back" 16th.
Pine Ridge Golf Club: The Coram course is another built around a golf community, but in this case, the namesake pines do a fine job hiding and protecting the neighbors and their recently built digs. One chink in the armor, however, is on #6, where a very high and very poor slice could fly over the pines toward a cluster of homes. In our last round there, a resident out for a morning stroll alongside the hole (a common sight at Pine Ridge) helped us find a ball in the right rough. When we saw how close we were to the homes off the side of the hole, we apologized. "Don't worry about it," he said, before commending the recovery shot back under the pines.
Lido Golf Club: All that separates the Lido Golf Club from Lido Boulevard is a string of about 50 houses sandwiched between the two. Though the tees and fairways on #10 and #11 are angled slightly away from the course boundary, a big-time slice can still lead to a few seconds of nervous anticipation before what everyone hopes is the silence of a ball landing safely and damage-free. If I recall correctly, some homeowners have installed their own protective barriers since there is no netting and only scattered tree cover.
Peninsula Golf Club: Peninsula is a nine-hole course in the center of a quiet section of Massapequa south of Merrick Road. Many of its big driving holes are contained within the interior of the layout, except for one -- the par-5 ninth. A row of trees lines the course perimeter but is powerless against high slices, which, again, can be street- or roof-bound.